What should your diet be like in order to avoid gluten intolerance?
It’s not so long ago that barely anyone knew what the word gluten meant, let alone gave any thought to avoiding it. But now gluten-free diet menus and recipe books, and gluten based “free-from” aisles at the supermarket, and are all the rage, and many high-profile stars have been linked to the gluten-free lifestyle.
Gluten-free eating has a definite basis in science, and it does help a genuine health problem. To the 1% people with a chronic digestive disorder called coeliac disease, gluten is a true enemy; even the tiniest trace of it can cause a vicious immune response which can seriously damage the small intestine. If untreated, these responses can then lead to intestinal cancers as well as complications such as infertility and osteoporosis.
Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity has a clear basis in science too. Gluten sensitivity can lead to symptoms to coeliac disease such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, and bloating; without the long term damage to the intestine and other organs.
Regardless of the cause of your gluten intolerance the most important thing for you is that gluten is excluded from your diet. Gluten is the elastic, rubbery protein in grains which binds the dough in foods such as bread and other baked goods. It contributes to the spongy consistency. Gluten is a special type of protein that is commonly found in rye, wheat and barley. The vast majority of oats and oats products on the market are contaminated with wheat, rye and/or barley. Processing, such as milling, makes them unsuitable for people with coeliac disease. The protein found in oats is called avenin, which is similar to gluten. There is some evidence to suggest that some people with coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity may even react to pure, uncontaminated oats.
Therefore, gluten is found in most types of cereals and in many types of bread. Not all foods from the grain family, however, contain gluten. Examples of grains that do not have gluten include wild rice, corn, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, quinoa, soybeans, and sunflower seeds. Gluten is a composite of the proteins gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin and glutenin comprise about 80% of the protein contained in wheat seed. The stored proteins of corn and rice are sometimes called glutens, but their proteins differ from wheat gluten by lacking gliadin.
There are many different gluten-free products on the market now – take a look in your local supermarket or on-line. Going gluten free isn’t as difficult as you may think!
Dr. Gillian Hart is a Scientific Director for YorkTest Laboratories who specialise in food intolerance testing to identify problematic foods. So if you find yourself asking “why am I always tired?” you may be suffering from a food related intolerance such as wheat intolerance. For more information visit YorkTest.com or call 0800 074 6185.
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